A Podcast Playlist Primer

Audio podcasts are my favorite way to squeeze in a little entertainment or information while performing other, typically mundane, tasks. While I'm driving. When I'm at the store. I almost always have my Earpods in and a couple episodes downloaded and queued up in my player.

My Weapon of Choice

I've used several different "Podcatchers" (or players) available for iOS and Pocket Casts is hands down my favorite for iOS 7. It has a clean design, "smart" playlist support and makes it quick and easy to find, stream, download and listen to your shows. Pocket Casts also has a free web service that backs up and syncs your subscriptions as well as a really nice way to share both shows and individual episodes.

I also use, and love, the new Apple EarPods when listening to podcasts on my iPhone. I have better sounding earphones but the EarPods strike the perfect balance between being able to hear the content while still being aware of what's going on around you.

On to the Shows

While there are exceptions to the rule, podcasts tend to come and go fairly often as people lose interest, have less free time or just run out of things to say. While this is understandable it does make it a bit harder to keep a subscription list full of active shows. These are my current favorites (in alphabetic order) and, as of now, are all producing new episodes. Just keep in mind that by the time you read this they may already be dead.


Guy English and Rene Ritchie interview (primarily Mac and iOS) software developers about their careers, their history and their process. The episodes can be a little hit or miss as the quality of the conversation depends a lot on the guest. If you're wondering where to start the first episode with Loren Brichter is outstanding.


Radiolab is the king of nerdy podcasts and the gold standard for production values. Some episodes are better than others but they're all fantastic. They also produce "shorts" to help fill the gap in between full episodes which typically expand upon the topic of the previous episode.


Billed as "A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine", Sawbones' appeal comes as much (more really) from the chemistry between its hosts as their coverage of the topic itself. It's a funny show, with a subject that should appeal to anyone with a passing interest in either history or medicine, and it doesn't try to gross anyone out.

The Besties

Sawbones' Justin McElroy returns as one of the hosts of The Besties, Polygon.com's once weekly, now monthly podcast where "the world's best friends" talk about "the world's best video games". It's all very tongue-in-cheek but the subject is presented with both humor and respect for the medium by adults who understand that other adults play video games.

The Flophouse

Everyone loves to make fun of bad movies. These guys (and gal) are just better at it than you. The Flophouse is always good for making me awkwardly laugh out loud at the grocery store.

Bring Out Your Dead

Here are a couple of podcasts that may never be updated again but have a fantastic back catalog to enjoy.

A Life Well Wasted

Robert Ashley's A Life Well Wasted is the Radiolab of video game podcasts. It's a shame that only a handful of episodes were produced. No doubt due to the time involved in producing content at this level of quality. The subdued atmosphere may turn some off but I'd still recommend it highly for anyone with a passing interest in either audio production or the history and culture of video games.

You Look Nice Today

Twitter pals Adam Lisagor, Merlin Mann and Scott Simpson got together to try and make each other laugh and ended up recording the podcasting equivalent of the White Album. Unique, unrepeatable, and all over the place this so-called "Journal of Emotional Hygiene" is a modern day classic and also a great example of how good editing can elevate a show.

I'll Show You Mine

Here's my current subscriptions straight out of Pocket Casts. I don't listen to all of these shows regularly but all my favorites are in there. If you haven't seen one of these before, an OPML file is just XML and should be recognized by pretty much any decent client app.

Now You Show Me Yours

If you have a show you think I should check out please do let me know. I'm always looking for new things to listen to.

"A Podcast Playlist Primer" was originally published on 16 Feb 2014.